HOUSTON — Houston rookie Will Fuller didn’t waste any time making his mark in the NFL.
The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft became the first player in franchise history to have 100 yards receiving in a debut with 107 and a touchdown in Houston’s 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
“He’s dynamite, and he’ll occasionally drop a ball, but boy he sure makes up for it in a hurry,” Texans owner Bob McNair said. “He made some great plays.”
Fuller doesn’t like talking about himself, but was excited to help the team open with a victory.
“When I got the chance to get the ball in my hands I just tried to make something happen,” he said.
Fuller was just one new piece of a revamped offense which also added quarterback Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller in the offseason.
Osweiler threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in his debut with Houston after the Texans lured him from Denver with a $72 million contract. While Fuller was his favorite target on Sunday, he spread the ball around, completing passes to seven other players. DeAndre Hopkins added 54 yards receiving and a score and Miller had 106 yards rushing.
Osweiler said he didn’t have any jitters leading up to this game.
“I was very confident in this team,” he said. “I know what this football team is capable of doing, and it’s because I see it on a daily basis. There were no nerves there because I knew what kind of football team I had behind me.”
Houston trailed by 1 point entering the fourth quarter before Osweiler found Fuller on a short pass and he scampered 18 yards for a touchdown to make it 20-14. The Texans added a 38-yard field goal later in the quarter to make it 23-14.
Some things we learned from Houston’s season-opening win over Chicago.
WATT COMING ALONG
J.J. Watt started on Sunday, but was not quite back to form after missing the entire preseason following back surgery.
“I’m knocking a little bit of rust off, and I think as we move forward here I’ll start to feel fully like myself again,” he said. “But there’s definitely some things I wish I could have done differently today.”
Watt said he didn’t feel any lingering effects from the surgery he had in July to repair a herniated disk and he played about as much as he normally does. But the man who has won NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year the last two seasons and three of the last four wasn’t the game-changer he has routinely been in the past.
While Watt, who led the NFL with 17 ½ sacks last season, didn’t sack Jay Cutler on Sunday, he did register three hits on the quarterback.
LINE NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Cutler threw for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but was also sacked five times on a day when linebackers Whitney Mercilus and 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney led the pass rush. The Texans were in his face all day and hit him 13 times on top of the five sacks.
He was working behind a line with two new players on Sunday with three-time Pro Bowl left guard Josh Sitton and rookie center Cody Whitehair both making their debuts with the Bears. Sitton was signed a week ago when he was a surprise release by Green Bay.
“It’s going to take time and experience,” Cutler said. “It was Cody’s first game out there, and (Sitton) has been with us four or five days. We don’t want to make excuses at all. There was nothing up front or on the back end or anything defensively that we weren’t prepared for.”
Houston middle linebacker Brian Cushing , who had 110 tackles last season, injured his knee in the first quarter and did not return. Cushing started every game last season and 14 in 2014 after playing just 12 games combined in the previous two seasons because of two significant injuries to his left knee. Coach Bill O’Brien didn’t specify exactly what the injury was after the game, but said he would miss some time and they’d have more details on Monday.
ALSHON IS ALL RIGHT
A bright spot for the Bears on Sunday was the performance of receiver Alshon Jeffery , who had four receptions for 105 yards. Chicago is glad to see him healthy again after he missed seven games last season because of calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder problems.